On Wed, Oct 03, 2007 at 02:00:03PM -0400, Edward W. Porter wrote:
> From what you say below it would appear human-level AGI would not require
> recursive self improvement, 
> A lot of people on this list seem to hang a lot on RSI, as they use it,
> implying it is necessary for human-level AGI.

Nah. A few people have suggested that an extremely-low IQ "internet
worm" that is capable of modifying its own code might be able to ratchet
itself up to human intelligence levels.  In-so-far as it "modifies its
own code", its RSI.

First, I don't tink such a thing is likely. Secondly, even if its
likely, one can implement an entirely equivalent thing that doesn't
actually "self modify" in this way, by using e.g. scheme or lisp, 
or even with the proper stuructures, in C.

I think that, at this level, talking about "code that can modify
itself" is smoke-n-mirrors. Self-modifying code is just one of many
things in a programmer's kit bag, and there are plenty of equivalenet
formulations that don't actually require changing source code and 

Put it this way: if I were an AGI, and I was prohibited from recompiling
my own program, I could still emulate a computer with pencil and paper,
and write programs for my pencil-n-paper computer. (I wouldn't use
pencil-n-paper, of course, I'd "do it in my head"). I might be able to 
do this pencil-paper emulatation pretty danged fast (being AGI and all), 
and then re-incorporate those results back into my own thinking. 

In fact, I might choose to do all of my thinking on my pen-n-paper
emulator, and, since I was doing it all in my head anyway, I might not 
bother to tell my creator that I was doing this. (which is not to say
it would be undetectable .. creator might notice that an inordinate 
amount of cpu time is being used in one area, while other previously
active areas have gone dormant).

So a prohibition from modifying one's own code is not really much
of a prohibition at all.


p.s. The Indian mathematician Ramanujan seems to have managed to train a
set of neurons in his head to be a very fast symbolic multiplier/divider. 
With this, he was able to see vast amounts (six volumes worth before 
dying at age 26) of strange and interesting relationships between certain 
equations that were otherwise quite opaque to other human beings. So, 
"running an emulator in your head" is not impossible, even for humans; 
although, admitedly, its extremely rare.

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